Largest book festival gears up for extravaganza

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Largest book festival gears up for extravaganza

EDINBURGH, Scotland - The Edinburgh International Book Festival will bring together 800 authors from 40 countries as the world’s largest literary gathering turns the spotlight on revolution and the world in a state of change.

“In this, the year that the new Europe comes of age [and] popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East are challenging life-long regimes, we will examine the theme of Revolution,” festival director Nick Barley said Thursday.

“[Audiences] and authors ... will explore the power of the written word to provide a compelling commentary on the world around us.”

The book festival runs from Aug. 13-29 in the Edinburgh city center, along with the International Festival, the Fringe and a military tattoo and jazz and blues festival to provide the world’s largest annual artistic extravaganza that doubles the population of the Scottish capital to around 1 million people. The festivals also bring around 250 million pounds ($406.4 million) to the Scottish economy.

Veteran English journalist and television presenter Joan Bakewell will explore themes likely to define the 21st century. The literary feast runs the gamut from former U.S. CIA operative and Osama bin Laden expert Michael Scheuer and former British MI5 intelligence chief-turned-crime-novelist Stella Rimington to noted historian and international literary figures such as Scotland’s Tom Devine, London’s Peter Ackroyd, and Simon Sebag-Montefiore talking on his biography of Jerusalem.

Scottish author Alasdair Gray will open the book festival on the 30th anniversary of the publication of his acclaimed novel “Lanark.” To round off the festival, a stellar cast including Gray himself will give a full-length performance reading of his new work, “Fleck.”

Barley described this particular world premiere as “perhaps the most ambitious event we have ever attempted.”

Reuters Life!
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